Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Dental Education








Due to the oral/systemic nature of eating disorders, this serious health issue requires comprehensive patient assessment and coordinated health treatment. The purpose of this study was to assess the breadth and depth of eating disorder and comprehensive care within the dental and dental hygiene curriculum. Survey data were collected from deans of U.S. dental programs (n=24) and dental hygiene program directors (n=94). Statistically significant differences were observed between dental programs (DP) and dental hygiene programs (DHP) as more DHP reported including anorexia nervosa (p<.001), bulimia nervosa (p<.001), and oral manifestations of eating disorders (p=.003) within their curricula. Clock hours dedicated to these topics ranged from seventeen to thirty-five minutes, with no statistically significant differences observed between DP and DHP. Only 58 percent of DP and 56 percent of DHP included patient communication skills specific to eating disorders. Moreover, DHP were observed dedicating more instruction time for this skill (p=.011). As greater emphasis is placed on oral/systemic health and the provision of comprehensive care, many oral health professionals may not be adequately trained to identify, provide education, and communicate with patients regarding the oral/systemic nature of eating disorders. The findings from this study indicate that there is a need for appropriate training to better prepare oral health professionals for comprehensive patient care.

Original Publication Citation

DeBate, R. D., Shuman, D., & Tedesco, L. A. (2007, May). Eating disorders in the oral health curriculum. Journal of Dental Education, 71(5), 655-663.